Q. Why should you avoid second person perspective?


Thank you for the question about writing in second person perspective, which is using the word "you" or "your" to refer to the reader.

According to the Purdue OWL site:

“You” is almost entirely non-existent in academic writing, because it is not clear who will be reading a text, so the writer cannot accurately account for each and every reader.

Example:  It seems to be the easiest way to meet people in your own community.

It is common to use “you” this way while speaking, but it since it is so imprecise, academic readers generally do not like it. A common strategy is to replace “you” or "your" with “one" as below:

Example avoiding second person:  It seems to be the easiest way to meet people in one’s own community.

If a writing situation calls for direct instructions on how to do something, rather than describing or arguing for something (as is the case in this answer), it is okay to use “you.”

Thank you for using ASK US. For more information contact your Campus Library/ARC.


  • Last Updated Jan 30, 2018
  • Views 300
  • Answered By Beth Lofgren

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  1. Thank you for the precise important advice.
    by Bwogi Robert on Jul 09, 2015.

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